RIVERSIDE, CALIF. -- Historian Henry Snyder is doing a little detective work.
He's searching for a few good books to include in what could become the world's largest computerized bibliography.
Snyder and his crew at the University of California, Riverside, have been searching the globe for everything published in English between 1475 -- when the printing press made its debut in England -- through the end of the 18th century. The effort began 13 years ago at the British Library. Since then, the group has uncovered rare volumes in places as diverse as the Wichita Public Library in Kansas and a crumbling old diocesan library in the Irish countryside.
"You can't believe the stuff that is lurking in the nooks and crannies," Snyder said. "It is hiding in people's attics, in the libraries of the nobility's great country estates, everywhere. Little by little, we're finding it."
The bibliography, which already is accessible through personal computers, includes pamphlets and one-page notices, and tells the number of known copies of each title and where each can be found.
Snyder, 61, said he hopes the list will contain half a million separate titles by 1995.
The project first sought only to log works printed in English during the 18th century. Snyder joined the project last year and resolved to expand the catalogue to include works since 1475.
The $20 million project is being funded by the British Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities and several private foundations.